The future of Agile

March 5, 2019

I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of the agile community for many years now. And in that time I’ve seen a lot of things change. In the beginning things were pretty small. You started with the team and if you managed to get to high-performing you were doing pretty well. Later as agile became more and more successful and methodologies like Scrum, XP and Kanban became more prevalent we started to run into issues as teams of teams work together. It was at that point that you saw the scaling frameworks come onto the scene. After the scaling frameworks were introduced you started to feel pain in other parts of the organization. Now if you got one division working they would struggle to work with other divisions or other functions in the organization like HR or finance. So in this latest incarnation business agility has become all the rage. Business agility promises to extend agile further through the organization. So now we start to incorporate different areas like HR and finance and marketing and sales under our agile umbrella and ideally the whole organization is working in an agile fashion.

At this point you might be well justified to ask the question, “Are we done yet?” In fact, I’m not sure that we are. There are a couple of things I think we can expect out of the next few years. First, I expect agile will become more of a cross organization feature. By cross organization I mean across companies similar to the way you see Japanese companies implement their families of companies and products. This is going to basically apply agility to the entire supply chain which will be a revolution for major industries. Beyond that I think you’ll also see agile being applied in domaine where it hasn’t typically been used before. I’m thinking of places like churches, nonprofits, any kind of non-IT organization that’s larger than a single team. Thirdly, I think you’ll start to see agile commoditized. By commoditized I mean that agile will become the kind of thing that is implemented as a matter of course in some sort of fashion that becomes nearly second nature. This means that the need for custom consulting and for coaching will go down dramatically. As agile and its practices become more and more internalized into the existing operations and becomes the status quo in companies across the world there will be less and less need for outside coaching and consulting. At this point, agile Will have become a commodity of sorts. I tried to put it all in a Wardley map:

Finally, there’s one last place that I think things will go which is to say that people of been waiting a long time to see what the next version of agile would be. Call it agile 2.0 or agile 3.0. Whatever the term, it will be the post agile thing that comes next. People have been speculating about the possibility of what the next great thing is going to be for the last 10 years I think we still have quite a ways to go another 5 to 10 years before we see whatever this next thing is going to be. At that point agile will be the status quo and it will be ripe for some new ideas to come in and make it completely obsolete. Now what exactly that is I have no idea. In fact I probably won’t recognize it until after the fact. Given that there is still plenty of room for growth and opportunity within our business, I’m be excited to see when we all go next.